Author: Vicky Hinze
Title: Deadly Ties
Publisher: Multnomah Books

Lisa Harper is all grown up now, on the brink of earning her medical license and, in the process, freeing her mother from the abusive claws of Dutch, the possessive, scheming stepfather who has hated Lisa from the beginning. But Lisa has no idea how much Dutch truly despises her, and to what lengths he will go to keep Annie under his control.

Mark Taylor, former Special Operations officer, has befriended Annie and Lisa, occasionally using his experience and influence to help soften Dutch’s rage against them. The story begins with Mark and Lisa metaphorically dancing around each other, acknowledging their friendship and attraction and wondering if their feelings are strong enough to move their relationship forward.

Then Dutch strikes. Annie is assaulted, Lisa is abducted, and Mark must use all his resources and skill to rescue her. Events move quickly. Even as she gives background information, the author keeps the pace brisk and the tension high. (Don’t start reading too late at night—you may see 2 a.m. like I did. I could not put the book down. )

VIcky Hinze’s main characters are well-developed. Despite her difficult childhood, Lisa has blossomed into a beautiful, self-sufficient woman of faith who has earned not only a medical degree but a black belt in karate. When the book opens she is teaching women self-defense classes, an outgrowth of her firsthand experience with abuse. If she can’t make her mother leave Dutch, she can at least help others who find themselves in similar situations.

Mark’s character proves to be fairly complex as well. Though his inner demons relate to his military experience on one level, his fears and spiritual struggles go much further back. He’s a wounded hero—one that readers will love and cheer.

I found it fascinating that Dutch, the “bad guy,” is far less developed than his hit man, Karl. Dutch is just evil—his motives for everything revolve around self-gratification, power, and revenge. He is all about himself. Karl, on the other hand, has a heart. He feels sympathy and shows understanding even as he obeys orders to assault or kill. After Lisa and Mark, he’s the most interesting character in the book.

Deadly Ties tackles two heavy subjects. The first few chapters introduce readers to Lisa’s and Annie’s backgrounds in which they suffer emotional and physical abuse. The author paints a convincing scene, showing how abusive relationships can leave permanent scars on a person. Readers may wonder why Annie refuses to leave Dutch. Some scenes are disturbing.

Even more difficult to swallow is Hinze’s all-too-real depiction of human trafficking. When Lisa is taken, she finds herself in a truck with several other women on their way to Mexico. Following their experience will educate readers on how many trafficking situations happen. What sort of women are taken, what sorts of people sell and transport them, and what sorts of men buy them? Kudos to Hinze for shining light on a very dark aspect of our society.

My only disappointment with the book came toward the end, as I noticed how neatly certain issues were resolved. A couple of plot contrivances glared as weaknesses in an otherwise well-written suspense novel.  But don’t let that stop you from adding this one to your bedside stack. (Remember, don’t wait til evening to get started.)